(TibetanReview.net, Jan09’23) – On the eve of the arrival on Jan 9 of a delegation of German lawmakers ahead of an anticipated ministerial visit later this year, China has carried out military exercises around the self-ruled island of Taiwan that focused on land strikes and sea assaults, the second such drills in less than a month. China has also cited “a number of military interactions between the US and the island of Taiwan since the PLA Eastern Theater Command’s last exercise in late December,” according to the official globaltimes.cn Jan 8.
The drills on Sunday aimed at testing the troops’ joint operational capabilities as well as countering collusions between and provocations by external and “Taiwan independence” forces, the report cited Senior Colonel Shi Yi, a spokesperson for the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command, as saying.
The report said that while Shi did not name the exact collusions and provocations, observers noted a number of military interactions between the US and the island of Taiwan since the PLA Eastern Theater Command’s last exercise in late December. The US announced the possible sale of Volcano anti-tank mine-laying system to Taiwan for an estimated $180 million on Dec 28, 2022, and sent the USS Chung-Hoon guided missile destroyer through the Taiwan Straits on Thursday (Jan 5).
* * *
The aljazeera.com Jan 9 cited Taiwan’s presidential office as saying China was making “groundless accusations” while strongly condemning the drills, adding the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait and the region were the common responsibility of both Taiwan and China.
The report also cited Taiwan’s defence ministry as saying Jan 9 that it had detected 57 Chinese military aircraft and four navy ships operating around the island over the previous 24 hours, sharing maps on Twitter to show their flight paths.
The ministry has said some 28 of the aircraft flew into the air defence identification zone (ADIZ) off the southwest of Taiwan, with some crossing the Taiwan Strait median line, an unofficial buffer between the two sides. Two nuclear-capable H-6 bombers flew to the south of Taiwan, the ministry map was stated to show.
China carried out similar exercises late last month after the United States passed a defence spending bill that included arms sales and support to Taiwan, with Taipei reporting that 43 of the Chinese aircraft crossed the median line. The same week, Taipei announced it would extend compulsory military service from its current four months to one year starting from 2024.
* * *
Meanwhile Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, chair of the parliamentary defence committee and a leader of the high-ranking German delegation has said the visit was a “sign of solidarity” with the self-ruled democracy.
The delegation, belonging to the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) — a junior partner in Germany’s coalition government — was to meet “senior figures from politics, civil society and the military,” to discuss the current “threat situation”.
Data from the Taiwan government show that the Chinese military sent 1,727 planes into Taiwan’s ADIZ in 2022, the report said.
China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and has not ruled out the use of force to annex it.
Taiwan asserts that only the island’s 23 million people can decide their future.